By JULIA ROMANO
BPNP Staff Writer
Nostalgia for the impassioned anti-war ’60s-style teach-ins was replaced by actuality Monday night as some 200 people gathered in a Main Street bakery to celebrate activism and promise further non-violent action. The second in a series of coffee house teach-ins, the Veteran’s Day event reflected a growing urgency among Santa Monicans to speak out against the see seemingly imminent war with Iraq.
Even more than a teach-in, the rally was a call to action. “Brothers and sisters, it has begun,” said the Rev. Thomas Ziegert of, the Venice United Methodist, Church. The Rev. Ziegert opened by asking for a moment of silence to remember past and future veterans who, could not be present. A mosaic of faces comprised the crowd, the picture pieced together with the mortar of common experience. On most faces, the memory of past wars was etched. But some faces still had skin so smooth their innocence and inexperience with war could not be belied.
Andrew Kay Liberman, a veteran himself of 1960s anti-war activism, is one of the main forces behind the Coffee House Teach-Ins to End the War organization, the association which, in conjunction with the Venice United Methodist Church, is responsible for this series of, events that began last month. Four more teach-ins are scheduled, the next to be held at Cafe Future, Inglewood, on Monday, Dec. 9.
Mr. Liberman is very positive about the power of such events, as. well as the importance the movement is gaining in the public arena. According to many of the speakers, national media organizations have understated the presence of an anti-war movement in, the United States, minimizing the growing dissent of American citizenry with the Bush Administration’s decisions. However, Mr. Liberman does see hope for the future. He was thrilled with coverage of Monday night by two television networks, Fox and NBC. “It’s a slowly building movement,” he said. “The movement is building, the peace movement is building.
At Mani’s Bakery, Mr. Liberman’s coalition brought together the speeches and songs of several Los Angeles peace activists centering around Ron Kovic, the Vietnam veteran-turned-anti-war activist and subject of the movie “Born on the Fourth of July.” During his second tour as a U.S. marine, Mr. Kovic suffered a spinal cord injury that left him wheelchair-bound. “If you are going to call me a hero, call me a hero for having protested the war,” he said. “Call me a hero for saying no to injustice and for saying no to war.”
Mr. Kovic’s expression on of his convictions earned him a number of standing ovations as he wove a textured and colorful tapestry of poignant anti-war statements. The thread of what was referred, to as “true patriotism” ran throughout, engaging. Mr. Kovic’s audience as “real citizens of America” who would not be quieted. They’re going to have put me behind bars, and they are going to have to muzzle me to keep me to keep me from, speaking,” he vowed. ‘I’m not going to stop speaking, are you?” he asked, as the audience, fervently chanted reply: “No way! No way!”
The same passion was reflected in the messages of the evening’s other teachers. Eisha Mason of the Center for Advancement of Non-Violence spoke of a peaceful vision that can and must be articulated through “people power.”
Bob McCloskey and his wife Linda Tuvak told of, their trip to Iraq to deliver $2.5 million worth of medicine to Iraqi hospitals. Ms. Tuvak spoke of tremendous generosity and goodwill of the Iraqi people they met, “To say that Iraq is a threat is a farce and a lie,” said Mr. McCloskey.
Stephen Longfellow Fiske, veteran author, songwriter, singer and “true patriot,” provided an impassioned musical accent to the evening as did radio, host Sonali Kolhathar of 90.7 KPFK-FM, who was accompanied by her husband Jim Ingalls on guitar,. and coffeehouse teach-in volunteer Matt Zaslow. Longtime peace activist Jerry Rubin found inspiration in the evening’s positive spirit. He spoke to the crowd, about the prospect of peace on earth. “This is where it is going to begin,” he said. “We’re going to stop this war before it starts.”